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Laura (1944)

Director: Otto Preminger
Writers: Vera Caspary - novel, Jay Dratler - screen play
Cast: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson

Laura is a woman of refined poise, an alluring beauty. Laura has everything, a wonderful career, a posh apartment and two suitors. Problem is, Laura is dead.

Police Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) has his hands full as he investigates the murder of Laura (Gene Tierney). Her friends are the prime suspects (Clifton Webb and Judith Anderson). So is Laura's gold digging finance (Vincent Price)...And that's all you're getting out of me, my lips are sealed.

Laura is a Film Noir that feels more like an early Hitchcock murder mystery. The director Otto Preminger has a lighter hand in telling the story than Hitchcock would of.

Both the story and characters are allowed to develop like a fine wine. Nothing is rushed, yet the story never drags as it's rich in detailed nuances. In some ways Laura has a stage play feel about it. The would-be suspects tag along with the detective as he goes about investigating the murder. That way they can all interact. Almost all the shots are interiors, no car chases, no dark shadows down an alley.

Damn, Gene Tierney is a stunner in that dress! Kudos to the wardrobe department! That photo says it all...Laura is a study of beautiful people and the obsession and self absorbed-ness that comes with that.

Laura isn't the only picture perfect person, so is Shelby (Vincent Price)...a handsome southern dandy who's as shallow is he's handsome. Juxtaposed is Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) who laminates over his puny body and is angry that his intelligent and wit can't win Laura's love.

That's what I found interesting about Laura, much more so than the criminal investigation into a murder. Otto Preminger uses the investigation as a means to study the people involved. And what a cast.

Gene Tierney is one of a kind, sure she's beautiful but more than that she has this aloof, million miles a way look in her eyes, that makes her seem as if she's looking into another world. And that really works for her in this movie. She played a similar character in a similar movie, Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Vincent Price was in that movie too and like in Laura, he played a very similar character.

Clifton Webb is one of the greats and is the catalysis as the obsessed friend/patron of Laura. He's the pain that comes from not having the beauty.

Dana Andrews, I swear he gets better every movie I see him in. Here he's the everyday guy, that also falls for Laura. He's our avenue into the movie, we see the story mainly from his viewpoint and as he's both an outsider and an average person, we can relate to him. Brilliant casting in the entire movie. And for me it's more about watching the actors/characters interact than the actual story.

Actors....that's what make Laura such a strong movie. It was Preminger who insisted on using Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, and Dana Andrews and they make the film so enjoyable to watch.